The Tampa Bay Rays will not be signing Japanese two-way star Shohei Ohtani, as the “Babe Ruth” of Japan seems to have narrowed his search to west coast teams.
The Rays were an early frontrunner for the phenom on the strength of their recent investment of Brendan McKay, a two-way star from college who has been given the support and development plan to continue that talent in professional baseball.
In fact, the Japanese media sought out the Rays officials at the recent, annual GM meetings to discuss that very topic. Ohtani, is also from a small market and has chosen to sign with an MLB club at age 23 — when he would still receive a rookie contract, as opposed to requiring free agent dollars to sign. He sounded too good to be true.
Alas, media speculation based on draft pick choices was not enough to secure what will surely be one of the top talents in the game.
That’s too bad for #Rays because it seemed they had an interesting approach to Ohtani pitch with McKay. But being on West coast of Florida was apparently not enough.— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) December 4, 2017
If there is a bright side for Rays fans, it’s that in choosing a west coast club, Ohtani has eschewed the large market rivals: the Yankees and Red Sox.
Ohtani is the dam holding back the floodgates of the off-season. Once his destination is known, not due until Dec. 22, the hot stove will surely be at a rolling boil.